ca. 600 B.C.E.

Ezra the Scribe reconstructs the Hebrew scriptures destroyed by the Babylonians

ca. 250 B.C.E.

Formation of the Septuagint commences; according to legend, with the Hebrew Torah translated into Greek in Alexandria at the command of Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285–246 B.C.E.)

ca. 3 B.C.E.

Birth of Christ

ca. 30 C.E.

Crucifixion of Christ

ca. 50–60

First Christian texts (some of the Pauline Epistles) written

ca. 65–70

Gospel of St. Mark composed

ca. 80–90

Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke, and Acts of the Apostles composed

ca. 85–95

Gospel of St. John composed

late 1st century

Other letters composed (of James, of Peter, of John, to the Hebrews)

ca. 95

Apocalypse / Revelation of John composed

ca. 100

Council of Jamnia determines the canonical text of the Hebrew Bible, known as the “Masoretic” text

ca. 125

Earliest surviving manuscript of a gospel written (St. John, known from fragments)

second century

Old Testament books start to be individually translated from Hebrew into Syriac

first half 2nd century

Christian writings—letters, gospels, and apocalypses—multiply; Pauline Epistles circulate as a collection

ca. 180

Irenaeus, bishop of Lyon, asserts the primacy of the four gospels (St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke and St. John); Tatian, a Syrian, produces the Diatessaron, a single narrative drawn from the gospels and additional material

early 3rd century

Origen of Alexandria compiles a comparative edition of the Old Testament in Hebrew and Greek, the Hexapla

late 3rd century

St. Anthony retreats into the eastern desert of Egypt, beginning a trend towards ascetic desert monasticism


Emperor Diocletian orders the destruction of Christian books during the “Great Persecution”


Constantine sees a vision of the Cross and triumphs at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge


Edict of Milan: Emperor Constantine grants freedom of worship throughout the Western Empire

early 4th century

Armenia becomes the first nation to adopt Christianity as its state religion; Gregory the Illuminator ordained bishop of Armenia (ca. 314); Christianity introduced to Ethiopia from Egypt


Constantine defeats Emperor Licinius and reunites the Empire’s two halves


Council of Nicaea, the first ecumenical council, condemns Arianism


Constantinople (now Istanbul) founded by Constantine as a bridgehead between East and West


Constantine commissions Bishop Eusebius to supply the churches he has founded in Rome with complete Bibles

ca. 337

Georgia accepts Christianity as its state religion

mid–4th century

Codex Sinaiticus, the earliest surviving complete Christian Bible, is made in Caesarea


Council of Laodicea lists 26 canonical books for reading in church (omitting Revelation)

ca. 372

St. Martin of Tours introduces monasticism to Europe


First Council of Constantinople declares that that city exerts an equal authority in the East to that of Rome in the West

ca. 382

St. Jerome enters the service of Pope Damasus and is commissioned to produce a Latin edition of the Bible—the Vulgate


Death of Ulfilas, “Apostle to the Goths,” who translated the Bible into the Gothic language


Emperor Theodosius bans pagan worship, and Christianity effectively becomes the state religion of the Roman Empire


Council of Hippo and Council of Carthage (397) both name the 27 books of the New Testament we know today

ca. 400

Roman Empire begins to contract

5th century

Syriac translations of Old Testament and New Testament books combined to form the Peshitta,the standard text for Syriac-speaking Churches

early 5th century

Greek alphabet adapted by the missionary St. Mesrob to produce those of Armenia and Georgia


Council of Ephesus condemns the views of Nestorius on the nature of Christ; Bishop Palladius is sent from Rome to believers in southern Ireland


Council of Chalcedon condemns Monophysitism (the belief that Christ has only divine nature) and establishes five patriarchates—Constantinople, Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem

ca. 460–90

St. Patrick’s mission from the northern British Church to Ireland


Emperor Justinian founds the monastery now known as St. Catherine’s on Mt. Sinai

ca. 529

St. Benedict founds the monastery of Montecassino in Italy


St. Columba leaves Ireland on voluntary exile to evangelize the Picts and the English, and founds the monastery of Iona in western Scotland


Death of Cassiodorus, founder of the monastery called the Vivarium in southern Italy


Patriarch John IV of Constantinople declares himself Ecumenical Patriarch, a title still retained by the leader of the Greek Orthodox Church


Death of St. Columba; Pope Gregory the Great sends a Roman mission led by St. Augustine to Britain to convert the Anglo-Saxons


Pope Gregory the Great sends a legate bearing gifts to Sinai


Death of Pope Gregory the Great

ca. 610

The Prophet Muhammad begins preaching in Mecca


Paul of Tella makes the Syrohexapla, a translation into Syriac of Origen’s Hexapla


Monastery of Lindisfarne is founded in northeast England

ca. 641

Islamic conquest of eastern and southern Mediterranean complete


Death of St. Cuthbert of Lindisfarne


Abbot Ceolfrith of Wearmouth–Jarrow sets off for Rome in retirement, taking one of three great complete bibles made by his community as a gift for the pope


Period of Iconoclasm in Byzantium


Death of St. Boniface, “Apostle to the Germans,” at Dokkum (now in The Netherlands)


On his deathbed the scholar Bede, a monk at Wearmouth–Jarrow, translates St. John’s Gospel into English


Council of Nicaea reinstates the use of images in Byzantium


Viking raids on Europe commence with the sacking of Lindisfarne

late 8th century

Theodulf of Orléans asserts the primacy of the word over images in his Libri carolini


Emperor Charlemagne crowned in Rome, solemnizing the creation of a Carolingian Empire; Abbot Alcuin of Tours completes a single-volume edition of the Vulgate Bible, copied throughout the Carolingian Empire


Resurgence of iconoclasm in Byzantium


Byzantine Emperor Constantine sends St. Cyril as a missionary to the Slavs; Cyril invents the Glagolitic alphabet from which Cyrillic is descended

ca. 950–60

Aldred glosses the Lindisfarne Gospels into Old English—the oldest surviving translation of the Gospels into English

ca. 962–1056

Ottonian Empire succeeds the Carolingian in Europe

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